“The international community must intervene as swiftly as possible to prevent the spread of violence” – PM Pashinyan’s interview with Le Figaro
Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan gave an interview to the well-known French newspaper Le Figaro. Below is the full text of Nikol Pashinyan’s interview.
Le Figaro - You are blaming Turkey for providing military support to Azerbaijan. Do you have any evidence?
Nikol Pashinyan - Yes, we have proof. Russia, France and Iran have already recognized the involvement of the Turkish army in the large-scale offensive launched against Artsakh (Nagorno-Karabakh) on September 27.
Top-level Turkish officials have publicly confirmed their support for Azerbaijan not only in political and diplomatic terms, but also on the battlefield. They are using Turkish UAVs and F-16s to bomb civilian facilities in Nagorno-Karabakh.
The international community, especially the American society, should be aware that U.S.-made F-16s are being used to kill Armenians in this conflict. There is evidence that Turkish military commanders are directly involved in the management of offensive operations. Ankara has provided Baku with military vehicles, weapons, and military advisers.
We know that Turkey trained and transported thousands of mercenaries and terrorists from Turkey-controlled areas in northern Syria. Those terrorists are fighting against the Armenians today. Many of them did not even know why Turkey deployed them to Azerbaijan. They realized that they had been made false promises after arriving in Azerbaijan.
We also know that these terrorists are taking drugs, because syringes full of narcotics have been discovered in the pockets of their uniforms - which may explain why about 30 per cent of Azerbaijani casualties are mercenaries from abroad.
Le Figaro – Do you think that Turkey is responsible for the escalation?
Nikol Pashinyan - Absolutely. The joint Azerbaijani-Turkish military drills that started in August have not been completed yet. And the offensive against Nagorno-Karabakh is actually the next phase of said exercises. Having prepared, they made the decision to launch an offensive, and they must be held responsible for this escalation.
After the unsuccessful July offensive on Armenia’s borders, Azerbaijan appealed to Turkey and it is obvious that Ankara is making decisions on many key aspects of the situation. They seek to reverse the regional balance of power in their favor.
Le Figaro - What do you mean?
Nikol Pashinyan - Turkey’s wish is to strengthen its role and influence in the South Caucasus, changing thereby the status quo that has been in place for over a century. Turkey pursues the goal of building a sultanate-like empire, and has embarked on a path that may set the region ablaze.
Le Figaro – Are prepared for a ceasefire?
Nikol Pashinyan - It is up to Turkey and Azerbaijan to stop hostilities, because they are the ones who launched the offensive and are now killing Armenians. Nagorno-Karabakh cannot disarm, because that would lead to genocide. The people who live there are facing an existential threat.
At this stage, the opposing side shows no intention of stopping the fighting. I am not even sure that Azerbaijan has any control over those terrorists fighting on their side. Our intelligence has witnessed that the mercenaries enter the stores in Azeri settlements and ban the sale of alcohol, saying that they are applying Sharia law over there.
Le Figaro - Should the negotiations continue to be brokered by the Minsk Group?
Nikol Pashinyan - This is the only format that actually exists. The Presidents of Russia and France have issued a strong appeal. We are looking forward to international community’s active commitment to halting the aggression. Turkey cannot be a mediator for its biased and bellicose stance.
Le Figaro - Is this crisis more severe than that of 2016?
Nikol Pashinyan – This crisis is much more serious. It would be more appropriate to compare it with what happened in 1915, when more than 1.5 million Armenians were slaughtered during the first genocide of the 20th century.
The Turkish state, which continues to deny the past, has once again ventured down a genocidal path. The world should be aware of what is happening here. The international community must intervene as swiftly as possible to prevent the spread of violence; otherwise the consequences of this standoff will spill over beyond the South Caucasus.